LEATHERHEAD 0 HARROW BOROUGH 2
Top of the league! Two points clear! Harrow’s dream start to the season continued with a superb all-round display at the morning’s leaders, Leatherhead. Two early goals were followed by a courageous rearguard action after they had been reduced
to ten men with over an hour to go.
It was no great surprise that Steve Baker named an unchanged side after the great midweek win at Wingate. On another slick surface, it was the Tanners who showed first. Cartwright headed a free-kick dangerously across goal but the assistant’s raised flag stopped further danger. A rarity these days, a poor Michael Bryan pass, put Harrow in trouble but Adam Richards cleared as the ball was slid across the goalmouth. But with their first attack, Harrow took a seventh-minute lead. Arinse Uade won a free-kick on the left. Kurtis Cumberbatch played it short to Bryan, who lifted it to the far post. Will Turl pulled away from his marker and headed the ball across goal perfectly for Anthony O’Connor to head home off the bar, his fourth of a season that was only two and a bit games old.
Cartwright blazed over following a free-kick, but in the 18th minute it was two-nil. A beautiful passing move on the right saw Howard Hall bring the ball forward, before laying it infield to Shaun Preddie. He exchanged passes with O’Connor, entered the penalty area, beat a defender and fired the ball across Oualah into the far corner.
Harrow were now looking full of confidence and as if they could beat anyone, but the game took a major turn in the 25th minute. Kandi went down under the most minimal contact from Uade – indeed two home supporters stood nearby said it was simulation, and this was given further credibility later in the game when Kandi took an even clearer dive. But though Uade was clearly irked that referee Meeten had given a free-kick, it was downright stupid of him to shove Kandi back to the floor with a push to the chest. The red card that followed was inevitable, and Uade might ask himself why he thought it was wise to react to home fans near the tunnel as he made his way off: you simply have to be bigger than this; no-one at Harrow cares for Sean Cronin, but when the former Wealdstone man was sent off at Wingate on Tuesday he very sensibly did not rise to the bait as he made the long walk off. However, to give Uade a ‘plus’, he did come and stand with the Harrow followers after the break.
Harrow cleared the free-kick, and reorganised, Hall going to left-back, Preddie to right-back, and Charles Banya dropping deeper. O’Connor had a shot blocked after an interchange with Turl, but Leatherhead began to pile on the pressure. Kandi shot way over, Midson poked a dropping ball wide at the near post, and Kandi headed back across goal and wide from Ambroisine’s cross. Melvin Minter then pushed away a cross-shot, Richards clearing off the line when Kandi shot the rebound goalwards. Minter saved from Gallagher before a slick Harrow move ended with Banya shooting over. O’Connor showed what a hard worker he is with a great tackle in his own area as the first period ended.
Turl was sacrificed at half-time with Tayo Davies-Coker coming on for a debut, Harrow going to three at the back. Might this invite Leatherhead on? There was an early stroke of luck when Gallagher’s mazy run ended with Davies having a shot deflect onto the bar, the ball coming back down into Minter’s grateful arms. Davies managed to head a corner wide when it seemed easier to score, though to be fair to him he won’t have seen the ball until the last moment, and Minter clawed away Blackman’s cross. Leatherhead won corner after corner but those three centre-backs, Richards, Davies-Coker and the imperious Curtis Ujah, kept everything out. Minter made a flying save to turn away a Blackman shot, but the save of the half was at the other end. Bryan cut in off the right-hand by line and scooped a shot that was heading for the far top corner until Oualah clawed it away. Bryan’s form this season so far has been simply outstanding. It’s probably ridiculously far-fetched to think that he might add to his Northern Ireland cap total – or is it?
Kandi, who had by now done his ‘theatricals’, headed Midson’s deep cross wide, before O’Connor broke forward and shot wide. It was his last action before being replaced by George Moore, Alfie Cain having also come on earlier, for Banya. Minter pushed away Sammy Moore’s free-kick and then dived to save Davies’s header. He then stopped another Sammy Moore free-kick, on the near post. George Moore took some of the pressure off his defensive colleagues with a break on the right and a shot wide before, with the game in its closing minutes, Minter made his best stop of the afternoon, a triple-save to stop two shots from Kandi and a dive on the ball to stop a third effort.
On the final whistle, players, management and fans showed their appreciation of each other, on a truly memorable afternoon. Harrow have a break from league action with a League Cup tie against the Metropolitan Police this Tuesday before they entertain another unbeaten team, a Tonbridge Angels side that is yet to concede a goal, at Earlsmead next Saturday.
LEATHERHEAD: Zaki Oualah, Sean Clohessy, Tom Richards, Sam Cartwright (sub Callum Davies, h-t), Jerry Nnamani, Yannis Ambroisine, Sam Blackman (sub Tre Mitford, 76 mins), Sammy Moore (booked, 86 mins), Chike Kandi, Jack Midson, Dan Gallagher (sub Tariq Turay, 59 mins). Unused sub: Paul Semakula.
HARROW BOROUGH: Melvin Minter (booked, 57 mins), Howard Hall, Arinse Uade (sent off, 25 mins), Adam Richards, Curtis Ujah, Shaun Preddie, Charles Banya (sub Alfie Cain, 65 mins), Kurtis Cumberbatch, Will Turl (sub Tayo Davies-Coker, h-t), Michael Bryan (booked, 75 mins), Anthony O’Connor (sub George Moore, 79 mins). Unused sub: Richard Pacquette.
Referee: Mr M Meeten
by Simon Grigor